Just one little bird.
She’s up when the stillness of 5:30 nudges me awake and I struggle to peel back heavy eyelids. She’s up and she sings. I wonder how she can even tell that it’s almost morning. I wonder why she sings yet. I tip-toe to the coffee pot and flick on barely enough lights as to not wake my children, and this is my quiet time and I briefly just wish that one little bird would be quiet.
“It’s not light yet. Shhhh. It’s not light yet.”
I lift my eyes from the worn pages of Isaiah and my gaze falls on Sarah’s notebook, left haphazardly on the table after yesterday’s writing assignment. She wrote that I was brave. That I had courage. But as I sit there in the dark, I think that I am not.
I miss my friends. I know where they are, and that it is better, by far, than suffering and sickness, but I wish they were here. I miss Betty’s smile as I wiped her forehead and the way her weak hand felt in mine, her fingernails hot-pink. I miss the still, quiet hours by her bedside and the way her eyes understood even if her ears did not. I miss Katherine’s laugh, loud and audacious and when I see her children smile, I see her, and I wish the ending had been different.
And I see Sarah’s words on the paper, “Our sick friend lived with us for a long time and my mom was brave and took care of her. I saw her praying for her and I know that she was loved and cared for. My mom kept her, and she had courage.”
And I cry, because I do not feel courageous. I feel downright defeated sometimes. Maybe courage is not at all about the absence of fear but about obedience even when we are afraid. Courage is trusting when we don’t know what is next, leaning into the hard and knowing that it will be hard, but more, God will be near. Maybe bravery is just looking fear in the face and telling it that is dos not win because I have known The Lord here. I have known The Lord in the long, dark night.
The little bird sings loud in the dark. And slowly, the sun peaks over the horizon.
At school I ask Joyce what her definition of courage is, and she says, “to have faith.” Maybe that is just it. That we still tremble, but more than that we have faith. That even though we feel uncertain, we press into a God who is so certain, so sure, so steady. He carries us, He lifts our heads. And His unfailing love and comfort becomes our courage and our hope.
It is days later and it is raining. The huge drops pelt our tin roof so hard that we can hardly hear a thing, but as the rain slows, I make out a familiar noise and I laugh. It is the same little bird that cannot contain her song too early in the morning. I wonder where she is and how she can keep singing in this storm. I wonder why she sings. But the rain slows to a trickle and the sun peaks from behind the clouds and suddenly all I can hear is her glorious song.
“To have faith, “I think. And I wonder, does she sing because she knows the sun is coming?
And I want to be just like that little bird.
Hope is a crazy thing, a courageous thing. That little bird, she feels the sun coming, knows with certainty that it will come, even when she can’t quite see it yet.
We live in a world where innocent people suffer and good friends die and stories don’t have the endings we prayed for, and the pain and the hurt, it is everywhere. But the Joy and the Hope that we find in our Savior? It is everywhere, too. I do not have all the answers; in fact, I don’t have many at all. But this is what I know: God is who He says He is. And in the hurt and the pain and the suffering, God is near, and He is good, even when the ending isn’t.
And I can sing, because I know what is coming. I can hope, because I know Who is coming.
In the dark of the night, I have seen His face, and I have known His promises to be true, and I know the Light is coming.
And I want to be brave enough to hold out the hope of the Gospel to a world that is hurting and alone and afraid. Not a hope that is the absence of pain or heartache or suffering, not optimism disguised as hope that waits for the best-case scenario or happy ending, but a Hope that is the knowledge and full assurance that our Savior is on His way.
It’s not light yet, but I know Him, the One who is the Light.
And so in the dark, I will sing.